You may have guessed that my answer is a resounding yes. This recipe is proof: wine is not necessary for making delicious braised chicken. In fact, I liked this dish even more than the coq au riesling I’ve been making, and to me, the chicken and sauce still had all the flavor benefits of dishes made with copious amounts of wine. I’m eager to see if you agree, so if you try this recipe, please let me know what you think!
Want to know why this recipe is so good, even though there’s no wine in it? My theory is that it’s because of the following three reasons. First, this recipe uses Pure Indian Foods’ organic, grassfed ghee. Ghee is by far my favorite cooking fat, because it has all the delicious flavor of butter paired with the higher smoke point of oil. In fact, I think ghee tastes even better than butter, and it’s also a much healthier choice than canola or vegetable oil. If you haven’t heard me talk about the wonders of ghee, you can read more about what it is and how it’s made here.
Braised Chicken with Leeks & Scallions
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes
3 tablespoons ghee, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks
2 leeks (about two pounds), white and light green parts only, trimmed, chopped, and rinsed well**
1/4 pound (4 ounces) shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
3-4 sprigs thyme
2 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 bunch scallions
Lemon wedges, for serving
**Leeks can be very sandy. It’s easiest to chop them first and then rinse them well in a colander so you won’t miss any grit hiding between the layers.
Heat half of the ghee in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, then add the chicken pieces to the skillet, skin side down. Sear for 3-4 minutes, until the bottom is well-browned, then flip and sear until browned on the second side. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and pour off the excess fat in the skillet.
,Leaving the heat on medium high, add the remaining ghee to the skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute, stirring only occasionally, until browned, about five minutes. Add the leeks and saute until fragrant, about two minutes. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side down, and add the thyme sprigs and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Flip the chicken over and simmer for 30 more minutes, or until the chicken is very tender and cooked through, then sprinkle the lemon juice evenly over the top. When the chicken has 5-10 minutes left to cook, turn on your broiler so it’s ready for the last step.
While the chicken is braising, prepare the scallions. Remove the outer layer or two (anything that looks rough or less than perfectly fresh), wash carefully, trim the dark green tips, and cut in half crosswise. You can slice the roots off or leave them. When the chicken is done braising, arrange the scallions amongst the chicken. You want the scallions on top of the leek and mushroom mixture, but not right on top of the pieces of chicken. Transfer the skillet to the broiler and cook for 2-3 minutes, checking frequently, until the chicken is deep golden on top and the scallions are wilted. Carefully remove the skillet from the broiler (I like to leave an oven mitt on the handle even after I take the pan out, because otherwise I tend to forget how hot the handle is). Serve the sauce and vegetables topped with the chicken and scallions, and garnish with a lemon wedge.
This dish is delicious on its own or with mashed rutabaga (substitute coconut milk for the heavy cream in that recipe if you’re looking for a Whole30-compliant version).
Yield: 2 bouquets
Prep time: 5 minutes
2 large sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
*There are many ways to make a bouquet garni. Check out this post from Food52 to see a few variations.
Slice the green part of a leek in half so you can remove one of the innermost leaves. Cut an inner leek leaf in half lengthwise, then cut each piece in half lengthwise again to form a long, thin strand.
Place one bay leaf on top of one sprig of thyme, then carefully wrap one piece of leek leaf around the bundle, tying a simple knot once in the front and once in the back if possible, and tucking in the ends of the leek leaf if desired. Use as a garnish or to provide flavor to stocks and sauces.